Tirreno-Adriatico stage 1: Juan Ayuso stuns Filippo Ganna in opening time trial

UAE Team Emirates' GC hopeful produces lung-busting ride to beat the Italian national champion over 10km course

Clock14:49, Monday 4th March 2024
Juan Ayuso produced a storming ride to take the opening stage and first leader's jersey of the race

© Getty Images

Juan Ayuso produced a storming ride to take the opening stage and first leader's jersey of the race

Juan Ayuso's efforts were enough to secure him victory on stage 1 of Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Ineos Grenadiers' Filippo Ganna. In a huge upset, the Spaniard came over the line in the time trial with an average speed of 52.632km/h, with Ganna just a second slower.

UAE Team Emirates continued their phenomenal start to the season in time trials, with Ayuso the latest of their riders to take a victory against the clock.

Perhaps taking inspiration from the team's 1-2-3 at the recent UAE Tour, Ayuso produced a ride that had many onlookers stunned, as he threw himself into the tight corners with a vengeance on the opening stage of the Italian WorldTour stage race.

His efforts were enough to outdo the Italian national champion, whilst Israel-Premier Tech's Ethan Vernon came up trumps late on to secure a valuable fourth place behind Lidl-Trek's Jonathan Milan.

Ayuso will now take the leader's jersey into the second stage and with it, a handy 22-second advantage over Visma-Lease a Bike's Jonas Vingegaard.

"I don't know if he's the favourite," Ayuso said of the Dane after the race, "but for sure he's going to be one of the toughest rivals we have in this race. So it's good to start this way, it's good to have this time ahead of him, because for sure he's going to put up a battle and it's going to be very very very hard to beat him, but we're going to give our best to try and win this race."

The Spaniard revealed to Eurosport that a smart pacing strategy had delivered him to the final kilometres with the legs needed for an exceptional time.

"Before I started I saw the times [of other riders]. The average speed was much less coming back than going, due to a headwind. So I knew I had to save the legs and then when I turned around, I knew I was going to do a good time because I still hadn't gone full gas."

Jonas Vingegaard fails to sparkle in new Giro helmet

The biggest news story of the day undoubtedly came when Visma-Lease a Bike lifted the lid on their new Giro helmets for the stage, with Jonas Vingegaard the first off the start ramp in this eye-catching design.

Read more: Visma-Lease a Bike and Jonas Vingegaard debut spectacular new time trial helmet

Sporting a bulbous look that was sure to make a splash in the Race of the Two Seas, Vingegaard was the first of the race favourites to set a time on the 10km course. It was the Dane's first proper time trial test of the season after his effort at O Gran Camiño was besieged by high winds.

In the end, it would not be a winning ride for the reigning two-time Tour de France champion, but certainly a commendable one. Clocking in a time of 11:46, Vingegaard was in third place for a short while before being knocked down to 9th later in the afternoon.

The Dane will be happy with his ride, however, as will Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale's Ben O'Connor, who lost only eight seconds to the Visma-Lease a Bike rider over the 10km. Given the rain that fell during the Australian's time, O'Connor made an early statement in the GC battle with his effort.

"Some people said it was going to rain at three o'clock, others said one. So it was a bit shitty to have the rain for the corners, but I felt pretty good actually and lost a lot of time in the corners," O'Connor said to Eurosport after the finish.

Read more: Ben O’Connor falls agonisingly short of first WorldTour GC win

Juan Ayuso's astonishing ride rewarded with hot seat

Søren Wærenskjold (Uno-X Mobility) had enjoyed a lengthy spell in the hot seat early on, after producing an exceptional ride to finish in 11:39, but his time was toppled by a spirited display from Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates).

From the moment he departed the start ramp, the Spaniard was visibly completely committed to his ride, brushing up against the sponsorship hoardings and powering his way up the straights with gusto. Earning a round of applause from Wærenskjold as he crossed the line, Ayuso took the hot seat with a blistering average speed of 52.632km/h.

Read more: Spain’s next Tour de France champion? Juan Ayuso prepares for debut in 2024

All eyes turn to stage favourite Filippo Ganna

Over the next couple of hours, riders came and went but still Ayuso's time remained the fastest. There were certainly notable rides, not least from Lidl-Trek's Jonathan Milan - who came home only 12 seconds slower than the Spaniard - and the slender frames of Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ), Max Poole (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Lennard Kämna and lastly, Jai Hindley (both Bora-Hansgrohe).

Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) had struggled earlier in the day, losing 44 seconds to Vingegaard, but all attention soon turned to Ganna, who was the sixth from last rider off the line.

As the holder of the two fastest time trials in Tirreno-Adriatico history, the Italian was fancied, but he went through the intermediate split two seconds down on Ayuso and was not able to overturn this deficit over the second half of the course.

Ayuso was a bag of nerves in the hot seat as he watched Ganna power towards the line, though nerves would turn to elation as the Italian national champion came over the finish one second slower than the UAE Team Emirates rider.

For all the important information about the 2024 Tirreno-Adriatico, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

Race Results

1

es flag

AYUSO Juan

UAE Team Emirates

11' 24"

2

it flag

GANNA Filippo

INEOS Grenadiers

+ 1"

3

it flag

MILAN Jonathan

Lidl-Trek

+ 12"

4

gb flag

VERNON Ethan

Israel-Premier Tech

+ 13"

5

cz flag

CERNÝ Josef

Soudal Quick-Step

+ 14"

6

no flag

WÆRENSKJOLD Søren

Uno-X Mobility

+ 15"

7

it flag

TIBERI Antonio

Bahrain Victorious

+ 17"

8

fr flag

VAUQUELIN Kévin

ARKEA-B&B HOTELS

+ 18"

9

dk flag

VINGEGAARD Jonas

Team Visma | Lease a Bike

+ 22"

10

fr flag

GRÉGOIRE Romain

Groupama-FDJ

"

Provided by FirstCycling

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